Fionnuala was the only girl in a family of boys, resented and ill-treated by their father's new wife. The stepmother eventually turned the lot of them into swans. I have set this tune with a left-hand that becomes almost a counter melody, with contrary and parallel motion. Play it simply and beautifully.
One and a half pages of music and text by Thomas Moore; Intermediate level; In A minor (key of C), with one pre-set G#; no lever changes, fingerings or brackets.
Listen to The Song of the Fionnuala (software-generated mp3):
This is a very old Irish tune, written by a fisherman and fiddler from the Northwest coast of Ireland, who, when out fishing with his mates one day, heard the tune mysteriously playing in the middle of the ocean. Believing it have an otherworldly origin, he named the tune after the, Pooka, an Irish water spirit. Later speculation tied the tune to migrating humpback whales. Either way, the tune is haunting.
This arrangement is spare and slow, using the harp to capture that otherworldly quality with slow rolls and harmonics. Part of the haunting quality comes from the switching from C natural to C sharp, a repeated change that is easy to achieve with the spareness of the left hand.
For early intermediate and above. One recurring lever change, Key of D. Two pages of music. No fingerings or brackets.
The recording will give you an idea, but the piece should be played very rubato.
Listen to Song of the Pooka (software-generated mp3):
A rollicking reel, so fun to play! I've shared the love between two hands, making it achievable even for advanced beginners. There are some cool downward rolling chords for that spooky effect, and also some fun grace notes (leave them out until you can play the melody well without them).
In A minor (key of C); one page of music; no lever changes, fingerings or brackets.
Listen to The Tamlin Reel (software-generated mp3):
This arrangement of Carolan's Draught pulls out all the stops, in honor of the showman the Turlough O'Carolan was reputed to be. The tune gives your right hand a fingering workout, but in a way that is completely "harpistic". Fingering includes thumb slides. I've added parallel scale passages, open hand octaves, lovely open tenth chords, and many other fun touches to the accompaniment. This piece is a great etude for late intermediate players, and perfect for recitals and gigs (and works beautifully as a wedding processional, too).
Three pages; no lever changes; key of C. Includes all right-hand fingerings. Arranged for full-sized harp (lowest note second G below middle C), but the few low left-hand passages are easy to move up an octave. 3 pages of music.
Listen to Carolan's Draught (software-generated mp3):
The Mountain of the Women, Sliabh na mBan (Slievenamon), is a nearly 2400-foot mountain in County Tipperary, Ireland. The mountain is named after the ancient fairy women or Feimhin, who enchanted the famous hero, Fionn mac Cumhaill, along with all of his followers.
This intermediate arrangement features a lilting introduction and interlude, grace notes, and a few harmonics (optional). Key of G; no lever changes. 4 pages.
Listen to The Mountain of the Women (software-generated mp3; harmonics do not sound)
This gorgeous song, sung by a mermaid who must leave her child, has been a hit with my students, many of whom have learned the beginner version and then "graduated" to the intermediate version another year. The intermediate version features rippling 16ths in the introduction, descending sixths, lush chords, and a left-hand melody.
Both versions fit on a therapy harp (lowest note C below middle C). Key of C. No lever changes. Beginner version includes fingering and brackets; intermediate version has some suggested fingerings.
Listen to The Sea Maiden (software-generated mp3) beginner version
Listen to The Sea Maiden (software-generated mp3) intermediate version
This gorgeous waltz is in the Dorian mode, and has a dreamy, wistful quality to it. Because of the sweeping quality of the melody, I've kept the left hand arrangement simple. Playable by early intermediate harpists, this is a great first piece for easy lever changes (or leave them out by playing the high F# in place of the D#).
E Dorian (Key of D); three pages. Grace note; two lever changes.
Listen to Crossing to Ireland (software-generated mp)
Add this exquisite tune to your repertoire. It's perfect for therapeutic work and fits a therapy harp (lowest note C below middle C). G Mixolydian (Key of C), no lever changes, some harmonics (optional). No fingerings; early intermediate level.
Listen to Bonny Portmore (software-generated audio; no playback of harmonics)
Composed by Samuel Lover in the 1840s, The Fairy Boy expresses the grief of a mother who believes her child has been stolen by malevolent fairies, leaving a sickly child to waste away in his place. It in the Dorian mode.
Late Intermediate; there are running sixteenth note passages, grace notes and harmonics. No lever changes. A Dorian (key of G); 2 pages.